Ronald McDonald’s mid-life crisis seems to have snowballed

Have you seen McDonald’s new mascot, Happy? The fast food giant unveiled him yesterday. I can only describe Happy as off-putting in a way that any big-toothed French fry carton cartoon/child-eating Ogre hybrid might be. Happy doesn’t look so much happy as he does crazed and, let me just say it: unstable. I wonder who was in the focus group for this thing – Dracula, a Tasmanian Devil and Sponge Bob Square Pants?

McDonald's newest mascot, Happy

McDonald’s newest mascot, Happy

What is happening at McDonald’s? Not even a month ago it unveiled a “new” and “updated” Ronald McDonald.   Ronald, the ‘face’ of McDonald’s since 1963, was apparently exhibiting symptoms of a defeated and washed-up mascot.   Sure he had his painted on smile as usual, but he was feeling antiquated and outdated – even irrelevant.

The folks at McDonald’s were worried about Ronald. He had become a shut in, gained weight from ordering Domino’s and wearing down the digits on the TV remote. Most alarming was that he had been noticeably distancing himself from his best friends, The Hamburglar and Gremlin.

To get Ronald out of the dumps, the folks at McDonald’s didn’t spring for expensive therapy sessions, or a trip to the island of misfit mascots to understand Ronald’s true significance and meaning to the brand in this day in age. Nope, they did not.   As creepy as a clown in clashing-colored dungarees, size 24 shoes and a red afro can be, Ronald only received some superficial “updates” to his wardrobe.

The McDonald’s folks hired a snazzy Broadway fashion designer who did indeed “update” Ronald’s look – updated him from 1963 to 1983 that is.

So what’s new about Ronald? Let’s start with Ronald’s casual wear – his trademark jumpsuit was traded in for a more comfortable and practical 2-piece ensemble vest and hybrid of sweat pants and parachute pants. I believe the term now is cargo pants.

The “new,” updated Ronald McDonald

Ronald’s new business casual look (for when he’s trotting the world as a global ambassador) consists of a red blazer and yellow slacks that make him look like an overly-friendly and flamboyant headmaster from one of Britain’s elite public schools.

At the end of the day, Ronald is just as awkward and silly to me as he’s ever been.

If McDonald’s really wanted to “update” Ronald as opposed to writing him out of the script, here are some of my armchair quarterback recommendations: choppy side-swept bangs and slight facial hair, cool-looking glasses, a trilby hat, beat up guitar and a yoga mat. Oh, and definitely toss the giant red shoes.

As for Happy, let’s see how he pans out. Hopefully he’s just creepy to us adults and not to our Happy-Meal-eating kids.

What do you think of the “new” Ronald and Happy? Are there other mascots you think need to be refreshed?

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